Bongeziwe Mabandla Unpacks New Album 'iimini'

Mabandla’s offering takes audiences on a journey of unfolding of love with pure sonic beauty

By  | Jun 22, 2020, 01:49 PM  | Bongeziwe Mabandla 

Bongeziwe Mabandla on Friday, March 27 released his third studio album titled iimini, which on its debut weekend took the No 1 spot on iTunes across all genres in South Africa.

The 12-track album has received positive reviews across social media from fans, with the audience’s praising the love centered album.

Mabandla offers listeners a cycle with a beginning, middle, and end, which is intended to be listened to as a whole. 
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For the album, Mabandla worked with Tiago Correia-Paulo, producer, composer and guitarist of 340ml and Tumi and the Volume.

This is not the first time, the two are working together. The two previously worked on Mabandla's previous album Mangaliso.

"He is part of my live band and happens to be a very good friend of mine and someone I admire very much. We spent a lot of time on the road together talking about the kind of album we wanted to create. He took a very creative approach and put a lot of heart into the album," explained Mabandla.

Mabandla also worked with Sonlittle from the US, who he met on the tour four years ago in Canada.

"We became friends and after listening to his music I became an instant fan. We were always speaking about doing something together until this opportunity came. I sent him the song and a few days later he sent me the most beautiful demo ever""
Image credit: Justice Mukheli

For the creative process of making the album, Mabandla worked at home for a few months, wrote the guitar parts and then sent the songs to Tiago.

"We also had had a lot of conversations about what kind of album we wanted to create. We would hear something and be like, "We should do something like that on the album!". We also wanted to do a mix of acoustic soul music with touches something current and electronic. Then we went in the studio and built the songs into sketches and shaped the ideas and after that, I recorded vocals again."

iimini starts off with meeting someone and how feelings evolve to love, and then the pain and heartache of being with someone,” says Mabandla of the album’s underpinning theme.

Mabandla further explains that inspiration for the album was that "emo, R&B vibe.”

"I wanted the lyrics to give you that nervous feeling of new love. We wanted to create a mixing of genres without it being noticeable. I wanted to create a Xhosa RnB / Neo Soul heartfelt album with real moments", says Mabandla.

The SAMA award winner for Best Alternative Album takes audiences through a journey through the stages of love. Dating in modern society is not always easy with various challenges affecting the survival of relationships.
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Mabandla says there is "a human fascination with love and we are all moved by it.

"Love will always be a strong concept to people. It is the joy of this difficult life. As much as we evolve as humans we will always be looking to love as an answer to true joy and fulfillment," adds Mabandla.

iimini is Mabandla's first release with Platoon, a London-based artist services company that is playing a role in helping African and South African artists showcase their creativity to the world.

Mabandla explains that he recently joined Platoon and their relationship was formed mainly because of how Platoon felt about his work.

"I want to always surround myself with people who believe in me. We also share the same principles of art coming first and foremost. We are planning a lot of exciting things together that I can’t wait for people to witness," says Mabandla.

The coronavirus outbreak has seen numerous cancellations in public events to curb the spread of the virus, Mabandla has had to postpone his April tour dates.

Mabandla has been on tour in numerous cities across Europe and Africa,

"I often compare South Africa to the many places I go to. I look for similarities and differences - what to take from a certain place and what to ignore. It also teaches me to appreciate the good things about my own home country," says Mabandla.

The artist says that Maputo is one city that touched his heart.

"I have been to Maputo but never really spent a lot of time until I went there last year to record part of the album. I really loved being there and experiencing a different way of living," says Mabandla

"I also felt so much at home and welcomed. I would walk to the studio every day and just take in this very familiar experience that is unlike anything I have ever seen," he adds.

Mabandla for his third album, judging from reviews from fans, has created a masterpiece that will be on replay on many playlists.

"Music takes a lot of work and focus. I put a lot into my work. I sacrifice a lot for my music because it’s one of the only things that make me feel alive, “he adds.

Image credit: Lidudamalingani

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